“Laura Ann Carleton, 66, a California business owner, was shot and killed last weekend after a gunman tore down an LGBTQ Pride flag hanging outside her store and shouted homophobic slurs. Since then, law enforcement has revealed that the gunman — who was killed in an encounter with police — also posted numerous anti-LGBTQ posts on social media accounts they believe are affiliated with him.”
“In 2018, 38 bills were introduced at the state level that targeted LGBTQ+ rights in one way or another. So far this year,2 411 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced, representing an almost 11-fold increase in just five years.
The majority (53 percent) of the 2018 bills were religious exemptions, which are bills that allow people or businesses to discriminate against others based on sexual orientation or gender identity if those characteristics violate their religious beliefs. For example, a bill in Oklahoma would have allowed individuals to deny services or goods that would have been used to “promote, advertise, endorse or advocate for a specific marriage, lifestyle or behavior,” if that marriage/lifestyle/behavior went against their religious beliefs.
In recent years, though, state lawmakers have expanded their ambitions, introducing a wider variety of anti-LGBTQ+ bills. There have been bills to ban books, bills to repeal bans on conversion therapy and bills to create a religious-based legal category of marriage that excludes same-sex couples. The most common types of legislation this year have been school restrictions (which include things like limiting classroom discussions of sexuality and gender), which account for 33 percent of anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in 2023, and health care restrictions (such as prohibiting trans kids from receiving gender-affirming care), which account for 27 percent. By contrast, religious exemptions were down to 8 percent of the bills introduced this year.”
“The vast majority of these bills don’t become law. Between 2018 and today, 88 to 97 percent of anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced did not become law. And of those that did, many have been challenged in and even overturned by the courts. But as the raw number of these bills has increased, so too has the number becoming law: In 2018, just two anti-LGBTQ+ bills were ultimately signed into law. So far this year, 51 have become law.”
“Screening questions asked of prospective blood donors will still recommend the deferral of individuals who report having a new sexual partner and have engaged in anal sex in the past three months, as well as of individuals who report having more than one sexual partner in the last three months and have also had anal sex.
The FDA said it “strongly believes” the new policy will not hurt the safety or availability of the nation’s blood supply.
Currently, men who have sex with men must abstain from sex for three months before giving blood. The new policy still limits people who have certain risk factors — such as a history of non-prescription injection drug use, those who have exchanged sex for money or drugs, or those who previously tested HIV-positive from donating.”
“Uganda is one of several African nations where it is illegal to be queer; the nation enacted its Anti-Homosexuality Act in 2014, which allowed for life imprisonment for some homosexual acts between consenting adults, and codified the repression of LGBTQ Ugandans. That legislation was annulled in court in 2014, though homosexuality was still illegal per previous law, according to a Human Rights Watch report.”
“Congress in December passed the Respect for Marriage Act, granting formal federal recognition to same-sex and interracial marriages. President Joe Biden quickly signed the bill into law.
While both types of marriages were already protected under federal law, that protection was afforded by the Supreme Court, not Congress. In the wake of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the 2022 case in which the Supreme Court overturned the federal abortion protection established by its 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, supporters of gay marriage worried that the Court might also revisit that subject.”
“The Respect for Marriage Act does not require states to legalize same-sex marriage. Many states still have bans on the books. If the Supreme Court ever decides to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 decision mandating legal recognition of gay marriages, those bans could take effect again.
The new law does require states to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states. While that provision may seem contrary to federalist principles, states historically have recognized marriages performed in other states with different rules (regarding minimum ages or marriages of cousins, for example). Although the courts have not yet resolved the issue, such accommodation is arguably mandatory under the Constitution’s requirement that “full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State.”
The Respect for Marriage Act says houses of worship, religious groups, and faith-based social agencies “shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage.” It adds that “any refusal under this subsection to provide such services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges shall not create any civil claim or cause of action.””
“Twelve Republican lawmakers crossed the aisle and voted with all the Democrats for the bill, which will enshrine federal recognition for same-sex and interracial marriages in states that have legalized it.
The Respect for Marriage Act is intended as a backstop should the Supreme Court ever decide to reconsider and overturn U.S. v. Windsor, which ruled that the federal government must recognize state-approved, same-sex marriages, and Obergefell v. Hodges, which ruled that all states and the federal government must legally recognize same-sex marriage. The Respect for Marriage Act repeals and replaces the Defense of Marriage Act, passed in 1996, which prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage.”
“The Respect for Marriage Act requires the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where it is legal. This is obviously very important in terms of taxes and federal benefits that are tied to marriage. This is not an expansion of the federal government so much as widening the group of people who have access to existing privileges, rights, and benefits.”
“The Respect for Marriage Act does not require any state to legalize same-sex marriages. Many states still have bans on recognition on the books. If the Supreme Court ever decides to overturn Obergefell, those bans will likely become active again. The Times coverage somewhat downplays this, and some gay couples might end up being surprised at what happens if Obergefell ever goes away.
The Respect for Marriage Act does require states to recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states. While this feels awkward and intrusive from a federalism standpoint, do try to imagine what would happen if this were not the case. More specifically, try to imagine if this were not the case with heterosexual couples. Each state sets its own marriage rules, but each state historically recognizes legal marriage licenses from other states for heterosexual couples. Gay couples shouldn’t be any different.
The Respect for Marriage Act lets religious organizations decline to participate in gay weddings. The bill specifically provides that churches and other houses of worship, religious groups, faith-based social agencies, etc. “shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage. Any refusal under this subsection to provide such services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges shall not create any civil claim or cause of action.””
“Cornyn is among a number of Republicans, including Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Mitt Romney (R-UT) who’ve argued that taking the bill up is superfluous, as the GOP seeks to keep the focus on other issues like inflation. While Cornyn and Rubio oppose the bill, however, Cassidy and Romney are among the Republicans who have yet to say where they stand.”
“By their reasoning, lawmakers don’t need to consider this legislation, which has already passed the House and is known as the Respect for Marriage Act, because the Supreme Court will treat the Obergefell v. Hodges decision that established this right as settled law.
In his concurrent opinion in the recent Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, however, Justice Clarence Thomas said that Obergefell was among the decisions he was interested in reconsidering. Previously, multiple justices also said they believed Roe was an established precedent only to vote to overturn it in Dobbs. That’s left Democrats arguing that the marriage bill Congress is weighing is vital to enshrine these protections into federal law in case the Supreme Court reverses the precedent set in Obergefell.”
“Ultimately, the Republican position is about deflection. GOP lawmakers would be taking an unpopular position if they opposed the bill, so they are instead claiming to be opposed to legislative redundancy and overreach. Additionally, this framing helps them avoid what some GOP lawmakers see as a lose-lose scenario: Opposing the measure could prompt backlash from moderate voters, while supporting it could enrage socially conservative members of their base.”
“The year was 1952, and Sen. Clyde R. Hoey (D–N.C.) was investigating how many gay people worked for the federal government and whether these workers were a security threat. In what would eventually be called the Lavender Scare, the government launched a purge of gay and lesbian employees, aided by a 1953 executive order by President Dwight Eisenhower. The witch hunts soon spilled over into the private sector, as workers lost jobs that required security clearances.”
“The year was 2004, and one state—Massachusetts—had started legally recognizing same-sex marriages. President George W. Bush, facing re-election, called for Congress to pass a constitutional amendment “defining and protecting marriage as a union of a man and a woman as husband and wife.” The Republican Party added the idea to its platform. While the national amendment was never adopted, 11 states passed their own constitutional bans against recognition that fall.”
“DeSantis and allied lawmakers have barred Florida educators from any instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity with young students at all, and they have restricted how teachers can approach those subjects in the higher grades. Parents are authorized to seek financial damages from school districts if they believe teachers or staff are discussing LGBT topics inappropriately—and what’s inappropriate is defined so vaguely that all sorts of unobjectionable conversations could prompt a suit. Some Florida schools have even started removing children’s books like I Am Jazz from their libraries because they featured trans characters. It’s not clear that the law actually requires such removals, but the possibility of lawsuits encourages districts to interpret the restrictions broadly.
Meanwhile, politicians in several states have introduced aggressive laws that attempt to stop minors from getting any sort of trans-affirmative medical treatment for gender dysphoria, even when parents and doctors support it. In Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton has declared that giving minors any such treatment counts as “child abuse” and Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered officials to start investigating families. One of the first targets investigated was a parent who worked for the state’s own Department of Family and Protective Services. (Following a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, a Texas court has put Abbott’s order on temporary hold.)
Contrary to their supporters’ rhetoric, these laws aren’t about preserving parents’ right to shape their children’s educations or protecting vulnerable young people from threats. After all, if you think families should make decisions about children’s education and care, that means accepting that families will make different decisions. Rules like these don’t establish a neutral position. They let one group of Americans tell another group of Americans that they don’t get a say in what their kids are taught or what treatments they can pursue.”
“The existence of detransitioners does not discredit trans-affirming treatments. The dramatically increased acceptance of gay and trans people in the U.S. has undoubtedly made young people more comfortable with questioning their gender identities. And the science of identifying gender dysphoria is complex and still being heavily researched, so it is inevitable that a certain number of people who believe they are trans might eventually decide otherwise and have regrets. (A survey from 2015 of more than 27,000 transgender Americans found that 8 percent had at least temporarily detransitioned at some point. Just 0.4 percent of all those surveyed had done so because they had concluded that they were not transgender after all, as opposed to stopping because of pressure from others, because they found the process to be too hard, or because of harassment.)
None of that justifies political intervention, even when we’re talking about minors. If you doubt that, consider the other optional surgeries that young people pursue. According to 2020 data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, doctors performed more than 87,000 cosmetic surgical procedures on teenagers.
It’s considered controversial in some quarters to let teens get surgery to change their appearance. Certainly some adults would love for legislators to pass laws stopping minors from getting many of these procedures. But neither federal nor state governments have done so. As a culture, we accept that decisions about these surgeries are properly made by the teens, consenting parents, and medical professionals. You may think these are reckless decisions that the teens may someday regret, and probably some of them do. Some of them might go wrong, might not be as beautiful or as affirming as the teens hoped. But that isn’t our decision to make, and embracing liberty means accepting that people will make decisions that we might not choose for ourselves. (And if the doctor commits actual malpractice, there are civil courts to resolve that.)
That doesn’t change when the surgeries involve teen genitals rather than teen noses. Critics of these treatments believe youths are permanently disfiguring their bodies, but supporters retort that denying trans kids the treatments they want (not all of which are surgical) can lead to worsening mental health, even suicide. Either way, the stakes are higher—and that makes it more important that families be able to make these decisions without political interference.”
“The state is an expression of political will, not ethical medicine. The attorney general of Texas has no idea what treatments are best for kids who believe they may be transgender, but he has the power to investigate and jail parents for making decisions the government deems to be “abusive.” And we have a lengthy history of child welfare agencies harassing families for behavior that offends officials but does not cause actual harm to children.”